GIRLS OF A CERTAIN AGE (Little, Brown, February 2021)
A darkly playful and subversive debut story collection exploring the many impossible choices that accompany 21st century femaleness.
What is the right way to handle an abusive partner? An unexpected pregnancy? A toxic friendship? Chronic unemployment? A family member going to war? A disability? Anger? Loneliness?
Finding themselves in various kinds of disempowering, frightening, or otherwise unendurable circumstances, the girls and women in Maria Adelmann's stories look for ways to free themselves into new lives or, at the very least, new states of feeling. Sometimes they do this by hurting someone else or getting hurt; sometimes by submitting, other times by mounting a rebellion. With a special talent for pressing the sharp up against the tender, Adelmann explores the many pathways through the titular condition.
Ranging in style from the magical to the terrifying to the calm tones of a self-help manual, Girls of a Certain Age captures the spectrum of strategies we apply to the pain of life, strategies that we persist in pretending might actually work.
“Adelmann renders the experience of young womanhood so viscerally that I felt I was perched somewhere within her narrators’ brains as I read. Adelmann can tease out both the anguish and perverse humor of a situation in a single dazzling sentence. This collection feels like its own singular world, and I loved being inside of it.”
―Alexis Schaitkin, author of Saint X
“Bewilderment runs like a ribbon through these stories, locating the surreal in the mundane and tethering fantastical elements to earthly pain. By the end, I felt like the protagonist in one of her stories—hanging upside down in a tree, shaken out, and rearranged.”
―Lulu Miller, author of Why Fish Don't Exist and Co-host of Radiolab
"Harsh and tender, Adelmann's collection is both an unblinking testament to modern womanhood and a fearless debut."
―Jean Kyoung Frazier, author of Pizza Girl
“Through narratives as heartfelt as they are surprising, they the young women in these stories search for connection, for a voice, and for purpose in the often-confounding world they move through, in bodies and situations that both betray and astound them. Maria Adelmann is a true storyteller.”
―Natalie Bakopoulos, author of Scorpionfish
"A startling debut from a writer of astonishing talent and vision."
―Jung Yun, author of Shelter
“The stories linger, clearly illuminated by their artistry, honesty, and pervasive courage.”
“A dark and tender debut… deep and often terrifying aspects of womens' lives are beautifully portrayed.”
“With eyes wide open, Adelmann carefully observes and meticulously records what happens to these girls of a certain age, paying special attention to those too easily ignored, overlooked and dismissed.”
“It’s hard to capture the line a young woman must walk when trying to make sense of belonging. But Maria Adelmann skillfully handles the insecurity of female youth in her collection of stories.”
―Chicago Review of Books